Our weekly newsletter Field Guide looks at how different cultures play with the same concepts—from voting and water access to movie-making and whiskey. Each issue features an original essay and give a taste of some of the best place-based writing, sounds and images from around the world.
See the latest editions of our Field Guide:
Stranger’s Guide spoke to Ruby Cramer, Buzzfeed’s political reporter, about covering the presidential election during a pandemic. Spoiler: it’s not easy. Elsewhere we hear about Narendra Modi’s election campaign—via hologram—and the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel on how, in a campaign year, the American diner is the must-visit institution for any political reporter.
Whether it’s to stay warm, to stay out of the sun or just to stay fashionable, every place has its hats. This week we meet French milliner Marie Mercié, whose occasionally outlandish creations have adorned the most stylish for three decades, as well as bring headwear facts from around the world.
In India, wedding guests wore masks and gloves; in Russia there were no hugs and kisses; while in Germany the bride and groom were separated from the officiant by a plastic screen. Welcome to the new reality of weddings in the time of the coronavirus. It’s prime wedding season, and all across the globe couples are adapting to the unique situation. We’re looking at how weddings are playing out around the world, while also considering weddings past and present and how each time and place has put its unique spin on this age-old ceremony.
July 1 is Canada Day, commemorating the unification of the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick—then under British rule in 1867. We’re celebrating Canada by diving into the Stranger’s Guide archives, and bringing you some new facts about this fascinating country that extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward to the Arctic Ocean.
For 50 years, June has been a time of celebration and community for the LGBTQ community. This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the in-person parades and parties have largely been postponed or canceled. But online, there are plenty of creative events ensuring the power and importance of Pride even in this difficult time. We're pleased to showcase a powerful speech from Ireland’s most famous drag queen, as well as explore the fight for equal treatment for LGBTQ people around the world.
The 1951 Geneva Convention defined who a refugee was, set out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that take that person in. Each June 20th, the United Nations marks World Refugee Day, an annual event designed to communicate to the wider world why these people need protection, celebrate their contributions and instill empathy and understanding for their plight.
At the Earth Summit in Brazil more than a quarter century ago, Canada’s International Centre for Ocean Development and the Ocean Institute of Canada suggested creating an annual day that could foster public interest in the sustainability and care of our oceans. World Oceans Day—on 8 June—was born, and in 2008 the United Nations officially designated it an international day to highlight good stewardship of the ocean and its resources. We’re devoting this week’s Field Guide to oceans and waterways, beginning with a story on Biscayne in Florida taken from our US National Parks print guide. Situated between Miami and Key Largo, this park is 95 percent water and home to one of the world’s largest coral reefs. Elsewhere we consider the ocean’s power to heal, and meet the former big wave surfer helping soldiers injured in battle.
As car use has decreased during COVID-19, many cities are considering ways to keep the trend going even when they open back up. It’s a challenge however, as so many cities have been built around cars. Such is the story of cars in Moscow, where Alexander Baunov’s lead essay takes us this week. Baunov’s story, which is featured in our Moscow guide, inspired this week’s Field Guide focused on transportation—from Russia’s embrace of the motor car, to the first days of the London Tube network and a scheme to ensure the safety of women on public transport in Delhi.
Inspired by an excerpt from the essay “Desert Pilgrims” by Colin Dickey—a tribute to the weird and wonderful people who inhabit California’s deserts—we've devoted our Field Guide to those barren landscapes that seem hostile to human habitation on the face of it, but turn out to be anything but.
Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone! This holiday recognizes the day that the Mexican army triumphed over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It’s actually a fairly minor holiday in Mexico, but in the United States it’s become an annual celebration of Mexican culture. This week’s Field Guide focuses on Mexico City, the subject of our premier issue. Drink some pulque, discover the city’s neighborhoods, from the rapidly gentrifying Roma to the “barrio bravo” Tepito and enjoy vantage points a tourist could never access. Can’t get enough? Buy the full Mexico City guide!
COVID-19 has hardened national borders around the world as countries seek to keep the virus out. It’s also given rise to increased xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment, both in the US and around the world. Explore the very concept of borders, beginning with the stories of five US deportees now living in Mexico City.
It’s National Parks Week and we’re celebrating with a Field Guide devoted to one of the US’s most revered treasures. Read Jeff Howe’s powerful essay on the Yellowstone backcountry; get away from everything and enjoy fascinating facts and excerpts, all from our National Parks edition.
A look at wildfires around the globe—particularly topical given Australia’s fire battles and those that encroached on the former nuclear plant at Chernobyl. We begin with an essay from our guide to the US National Parks and the ways so-called “prescribed burns” can actually prevent wildfires. Elsewhere, we look at how technology is aiding the cause, the ways deliberate fires fight wildfires and how illegal fires in Indonesia last year were used to clear land for palm oil plantations.
Dedicated to the world of birds of prey—falcons, hawks and eagles whose stories are sometimes stranger than fiction. Take a tour of Abu Dhabi’s falcon hospital, and then explore some fascinating facts, from hawks that once fed on human prey to kestrels that follow ultraviolet urine trails for their next meal.
With so many households social distancing to fight COVID-19, many find themselves in varying degrees of isolation. Others long for a bit of quiet in crowded households. Explore the many kinds of solitude that can exist, from peaceful quiet to crippling loneliness.
As we strive to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we are faced with a new reality of shuttered stores, restaurants, and offices, and isolation from family and friends. This week’s Field Guide looks at the phenomenon of quarantine past and present, ranging from Russia's first cholera epidemic, which “strait-jacketed” that nation, to smallpox in the 1800, detention on Angel Island and at sea, and thence to our experiences with coronavirus today.
This March 17, the green-bedecked crowds were few. Even Dublin cancelled its raucous Saint Patrick’s Day parade over concern about the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Still, the spirit of celebration remains, and it turns out that everyone's favorite Irish holiday is far more global than you might think. Even as a private festivity, this year consider cracking a Guinness and reading on to discover some lesser-known, fascinating stories about Saint Patrick and his day.
A tribute to the “watering hole:” the pubs and bars that become a town hall, a living room and, sometimes, a family. Discover Grogan's, one of Dublin's most beloved pubs, and the colorful characters who work and drink there, known as the “Groganites.” These are excerpts from a beautiful piece, by photographer Dara Gannon from our Ireland edition. Elsewhere we go in search of the most remote pub in the world, the standing-room pubs of Japan and more.
Pandemics and epidemics have always been a scourge of humanity, causing local and global suffering, and prompting fear-mongering and xenophobia. At times, they've also brought about moments of international cooperation, and major scientific breakthroughs. We look at ramifications of widespread diseases, from the surgical mask that's come to symbolize coronavirus to a celebration of the eradication of smallpox.
We call Lagos “The Past and Future City”—a place formed out of colonial times but not captive to them, always preparing for what’s to come. In a moment of global transition, there’s much to learn from Lagos and its citizens. The edition features a lineup of prominent and emergent Nigerian writers and photographers, among them Africa's first Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka.
Gender violence afflicts nearly every society—and in this week's Field Guide, we look at ways communities across the world respond. In a country beset by violent attacks on women, the Delhi state government now offers women free rides on public transportation, while critics wonder if this is the best way to address urgent safety issues. We also look at the UN’s response to gender violence worldwide and at the countries with the worst records on child marriage.
There are many, international “Silicon Valleys” you may not be aware of. The Pardis Technology Park in Tehran, for example, or Technopark, India’s first purpose-built IT park. This week we look at Silicon Valleys around the globe, kicking off with an essay about the unlikely turnaround for Dublin, Ireland’s once-fading docks area that is now the country's 21st Century tech hub.
Fast food is ubiquitous. And like the repercussions seen in America of eating too much of it, a path of obesity and other health problems are following in its wake elsewhere in the world. In this week’s Field Guide, writer Nithin Coca laments Indonesia’s love of a “highly-processed packaged instant noodle,” while elsewhere we hear how fast-food chains are fueling the rise of an obesity epidemic in Africa.
We salute the cultural atoll, celebrating the diversity that enclaves bring to a region: from Chinatown in Jakarta, to the centuries-old Jewish community in Cochin, India. An enclave is a territory surrounded by a larger one, whose inhabitants are ethnically, or culturally, distinct. Historically, though, some have endured a less-than-peaceful co-existence.
Mumbai isn't a particularly kind city to animals, writes Meher Mirza, but it’s impossible for him to imagine the city he calls home without them. And that’s the crux of this week’s Field Guide: what happens to man’s best friend in different parts of the world when they’re cast out and abandoned?
Take a look at the histories—and present circumstances—of indigenous communities around the world. Near Glacier National Park, the Blackfeet Nation is making plans to create their own park that will properly recognize the tribe's history and contributions to the region.
In parts of Ireland, raising horses in the inner city is a longstanding cultural tradition, but the authorities have been cracking down. We meet the Irish kids who maintain the custom—despite the consequences.
Around the world, the history of labor organizing reflects the cultures in which organizers have lived. We look at how Jewish workers in Eastern Europe once unionized with the Bund.
Our US National Parks issue takes readers on a journey into some of America’s most revered treasures. At once tourist destinations and nature preserves, the parks represent so many of the country’s best intentions and challenging realities. The issue offers new perspectives on these grand locations, from explorations of park histories to deep dives into the communities within the parks, as well as personal essays, both funny and moving, meditating on these beautiful sites. With photography showcasing the tourists of the 70s and 80s, complete with Polaroids and a collection of iconic WPA parks posters, this is an issue you will thoroughly enjoy and want to share.
One of our writers in India noticed that the popularity of the computer game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (known as PUBG) was off the charts. Observing people everywhere playing it, and realizing that they weren’t stereotypical teenage boys, she decided to write about it for this week’s Field Guide. The game has an estimated 50 million players in India.
Seven years ago, 200 of New York City's fast-food workers mobilized a walk-out to demand a wage increase and union rights. The effort caught fire and soon turned into a global movement for underpaid fast-food workers. In this week's Field Guide we look back at what the "Fight for $15" has achieved, and how low-paid food workers around the world are fighting for better working conditions and pay.
Irish traveling communities have nomadic origins that stem from their migrant worker ancestors. Birte Kaufmann's poignant photo essay “The Travellers” offers a much deeper picture of a community often separated from the outside world.
In June 2017, Ireland elected its first openly gay prime minister (Taoiseach), Leo Varadkar—two years after it legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote. In this week’s Field Guide we look at a timeline of LGBTQ equality in Ireland.
This year’s Labor Day may be over but the fights for workers’ rights and the global labor movement continue to evolve. That’s why we’re kicking off a web series on labor and workers around the world. From fast-food workers and Amazon packers to garment workers and smartphone factory workers, we'll be showcasing the ways that working conditions impact people and the ways that people can work together to change their working conditions.
To this day, the writers Derek Walcott and V. S. Naipaul are towering figures of Caribbean literature. Yet, says Jonathan Ali in his essay for Stranger's Guide, they disagreed constantly—even the Caribbean’s natural beauty was a point of division for them.
Earlier this year, the writer Edwidge Danticat chronicled a road trip she took with her husband and their children in her native Haiti—and what they encountered on their way into Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital. Her piece describes navigated a flooded road, revealing “hundreds of plastic water and soda bottles, mingled with foam boxes.” The essay then takes a look at the complicated routes rubbish travels, from one shore to another. “Our trash is now everybody’s trash,” she writes. Danticat’s original essay, written for the Stranger’s Guide Caribbean issue, offers an arresting look at waste and responsibility as we grapple with the implications of climate change.
Once one of Europe’s most conservative countries, in less than a generation, Ireland has turned into Europe’s progressive beacon. Ireland’s evolution demonstrates how quickly a place can change.
Mexico City’s main cathedral emerged from the rubble of what was once Tenochtitlan, a gigantic city state believed to have been built in the early 1300s and the capital of the Aztec Empire: a temple to Christianity hewn from the same rock that once formed a city devoted to a polytheistic religion worshipping a pantheon of gods and goddesses. Our lead essay, about the Metropolitan Cathedral, is taken from our print edition devoted to Mexico City.
The story of Kaniponu, a Mumbai rapper who emerged from the narrow streets—or “gullies”—of her home, is a real tale of triumph over adversity.
Sporting a striped cape and a black and silver mask, a Mexico City resident has forged an unlikely name for himself as a champion of pedestrian rights in a city that has an uncomfortable record of road fatalities.
The housing shortage in Hong Kong has mostly been answered with the architectural solution of building up—resulting in residential skyscrapers that jostle for space in the city's polluted skyline. But this has led to problems of heat and pollution at ground level.
In early 2019, the composer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda (who is of Puerto Rican descent) brought his critically acclaimed musical Hamilton to the Caribbean island. It was a year and three months after the devastating Hurricane Maria struck the country and Hamilton would form part of the fundraising efforts to get Puerto Rico back on its feet.
In Mexico City, recruiters comb the airport looking for new deportees from the US to hire to work in one of the many call centers in the capital.
Jamaica-born writer Summer Eldemire recalls the burglar bars, emergency buttons, alarm systems and guard dogs of her childhood as she discusses the country’s constant state of emergency.
Explore (and lament) the gentrification of Mexico City’s Roma neighborhood in Elena Poniatowska's story that accompanies a series of photographs by Gala Narezo. “The elimination of a way of life in the name of progress,” Poniatowska says, “is destroying the big little things.” Gentrification is happening everywhere, from Cape Town to Berlin.
Food writer Nikhil Merchant laments the bland appropriation of his native food in the West. “The Curry Chronicles” gets to the bottom of how and why this happened, and eulogizes what Indian restaurants in the UK and US have been missing, from “scented Salans and spicy Phaals” to “rich and nutty Qormas and caramelized Do Piazas.” But India doesn’t have the monopoly on curry; curried kangaroo, anyone?
Last year, rescue companies in Nepal were exposed for operating an elaborate scam. The government promised action, but today little has changed. Nepalese writer Arun Budhathoki finds out the latest. Elsewhere, we discover the world's longest mountain range (it's not what you think it is) and find out about an ancient gene that allows certain people to thrive at altitude.
Go subterranean as we ponder the world below ground level. James Jeffrey investigates the London to which most residents of the UK capital are oblivious: the one beneath their feet, which is a maze of tunnels and history. Learn about a salt mine turned tourist attraction in Romania, and an underground city in Turkey.
Lily Idov chronicles the city's neglected museums and their engaging—if a little bizarre—artifacts (from pet dogs immortalized by a taxidermist, to the serious-looking mannequins used in the displays.) Find a Thai museum dedicated to opium, and hear about French President Emmanuel Macron's declaration that Africa’s “cultural heritage can no longer remain a prisoner of European Museums."
A look at protest movements—from Russia to Brazil, Sudan to Paris. Even under the most repressive regime, the power of the people has a way of manifesting itself. But despite that power, protests don't always lead to change .
Explore the Bolshoi ballet's real-life soap opera backstage. Discover the poetic dance of a Native American tribe designed to release the moon from captivity; learn about what is probably the world’s oldest dance and the university where dancing was banned—until relatively recently.
Rivers have long provided a source of clean water, an easy way to transport goods and a limitless supply of metaphors. But pollution and development pose significant threats to the health of rivers around the world. We examine some of the most famous rivers in the world, from potential water scarcity around the Nile to the challenges of generating energy on the Yangtze.
We all know a bit of nature can make us feel better. But interacting with the natural world isn’t just a nice way to spend an afternoon—the therapeutic and healing effects can be powerful. From our lead essay exploring the practice of “forest bathing” to the medicinal properties found in various natural substances, it’s a read best done outside.
Online social networks are boosting the popularity of modern, homegrown Russian hip-hop. Michael Idov's story and Maria Ionova-Gribina's iconic photographs uncover Russia's unique obsession with battle rap. It got us thinking about other subversive musical subcultures: the electronic music scene in Iran, for example, or clandestine house parties in North Korea. Welcome to the underground.
Consider the places where cultures meet and then mingle. Casey O'Brien contemplates the magic of Spain's Alhambra, and Grenada's history of different ethnic groups living together, while elsewhere, we learn more about Jamaican Rastafarianism and its link with Ethiopia, and Sikh culture in Argentina.
Architecture is the rare art form designed for the most massive of scales; yet we are rarely attuned to the stories behind the structure. Read about one of Russia’s most interesting artistic movements, the Paper Architects. Also, explore “Africa’s Camelot,” and discover architecture as an Olympic sport.
When we wear jewelry we rarely think of the stories behind the sparkle: the workshop where it’s fashioned; its history. Take a deeper dive into jewelry—from the earliest human adornments, to its use as currency.
Dmitry Bykov still loves Lenin Hills—a place he describes as “pure poetry.” He waxes lyrical about an area of the city that gives him unbridled joy. Also, explore some famous favorite places, and how they have cemented their place in history.
Recognizing the histories of indigenous people—and the present challenges their communities face.
What is Moscow today? Its clean, bright, renovated streets evoke European grandeur and wealth. There are more sophisticated eateries, designer boutiques and new shops. Yet while Moscow dines and dances, the state continues to repress, obfuscate and censure.
War zones as experienced by the fighters who arrive there and the people who watch their homes transform.
From the UAE, to Canada, to China, how the different challenges to creating a new home.
Celebrated in Scotland since 1802, the Burns Supper—during which friends gather to eat haggis and recite the poetry of its national poet, Robert Burns—is now an event observed the world over. We asked Scottish poet Marion McCready to explain what it’s all about.
Whiskey: it conjures up images of smoky bars and mafiosos sipping single malts, cigars in hand; or perhaps of the remote Isle of Mull and Scottish seafarers transporting barrels across the inlet to the mainland.
Kike Arnal’s photo essay chronicling Mexico City’s goth culture—as well as Rowena Bali’s illuminating essay—got us thinking about the fascinating (usually youth) subcultures that are out there.
Find out how new year is celebrated in Ecuador—a tradition that includes the burning of effigies that represent the past. But this theme of “out with the old, in with the new” is something that is replicated the world over.
Boxing Day is absolutely not an occasion for gathering around a TV and watching a world title bout. (Except when it is.) Read all about December 26th—not generally celebrated in the US, but which is a cause for more booze and food in the UK and its former colonies. Merry Day-after-Christmas.
Read an extract from Gary Nabhan’s book Cumin, Camels, and Caravans, in which the author hikes across a desert in Oman hunting down spices.
Fictio Legis, a short fiction piece by award-winning Mexican author Valeria Luiselli, leads our Guide devoted to air travel and airports. Learn the dangers of “jet blast,” the world’s shortest passenger flight and what a poet makes of airplanes used as weapons of war.
Examine how access to reliable water sources is a worldwide issue.
Celebrate man's fascination with body art—including a gallery of enticing images shot by Mexican documentary photographer Federico Gama.
From the food of the poor to the food of the rich, the mollusk has been immortalized by everyone from Lewis Carroll to Shakespeare. Alexander Wooley investigates the fascinating (and unlikely) journey of Namibian oysters.
From the popularity of pre-Hispanic libations to the crush of traffic to the popularity of bullfighting, get a glimpse of both the vibrance and the darkness of the Mexican capital.
The act of voting around the world: Zimbabwean writer and political analyst Jacquelin Kataneksza on the power of the vote—even when it doesn’t immediately bring the change you want.
Why journalists embrace “diner journalism” during campaign season, “hologram campaigns” in India, and stadium rallies in Iran, where candidates are “treated like rock stars.”
Two museums, two very different takes on events that profoundly affected the countries involved.
Read about Kampala's thriving film scene, China's first film studio and the first feature film from Australia.
We meet an artist who lived in a floating egg—yes, an egg—as well a city on stilts and experiences of water's healing power and meaning.
From the Wayuu of Colombia to the Thar women of India, meet those around the world who live on the arid, rugged land.
Discover the countries where a majority of residents live alone, meet the Last True Hermit and learn what it's like to set sail with nothing but a fishing rod and a laptop.
Outer Mongolia, Siberia, Afghanistan, Nigeria. Certain places have become synonymous with remoteness, boredom, danger or simply somewhere you just wouldn’t want to go. But what’s the real story?
Korean pop in Morocco; Mexico's San Juan Chamula; Summoning smells of Indian cuisine from a new home in Paris.
Taking a look at the do-it-yourself attitude that drives disaster victims to become their own rescuers.
Social media and fancy camera phones mean there are few parts of the world left unphotographed and hashtagged. Welcome to #ArmchairTravel2.0
For centuries, the night has been writerly shorthand for sadness, evil or death, but the time between dusk and dawn is restorative.
Food is an integral part of culture, and as cultures change and blend with others, new takes on traditional cuisines emerge.
Geopolitical gamesmanship on a massive scale, what it means to play for Nigeria and why Greenland can't join in on all the fun.
In recent years, indigenous African traditions—such as Vodun, Candomblé, Lucumí (sometimes called Santería) and others—have seen a resurgence, as young people across the African diaspora try to reconnect with their spiritual roots.
The public spaces where we bury our dead.
Refugees often live in temporary camps that can become permanent homes. Many make dangerous journeys on foot or makeshift boats, only to face more uncertainty.
From the peaceful pastime to the booming industry, the many ways to examine catching fish.
Just what is the difference between tourists and travelers?